The Supreme Court of the United States of America just listened to three days of argument as to whether or not the recent Affordable Care Act (ACA) is Constitutional. Central to the twenty-six States’ argument is that the Federal government can not compel its citizen to purchase something they they do want to buy.
Like these opponents of the ACA, I have a big problem with the Federal government telling me what I should and should not be buying. But I have an even bigger problem with my fellow citizens who insist on sucking out only the benefits of citizenship without shouldering any of the responsibilities. In short, we should never be at a juncture where the government is forced to make us play nice with each other.
What affects you, affects me. The United States of America is our community and we should never cede control to a government because we can’t figure out how to take care of each other.
Solve that problem and you have a small government.
But I digress.
What we are calling health insurance is not really insurance. It is just a way to pay for health care. Mandating citizens buy health insurance is not at all like forcing them to buy car insurance. Not buying health insurance is an act of denial by some that their bodies will not get sick or injured.
If we want to stick with an automobile metaphor, it is more like being in denial about changing your car’s oil and expecting it to run simply because the oil is healthy today. Ignoring your health care by pretending you will always be healthy only acknowledges you are healthy today but ignores the fact that your body wears over time. Like oil, some bodies break down faster than others. Sometimes, the oil pan gets punctured even when the driver is careful.
In other words, illness and injury are a certitude with a human body. It’s just a matter of when. No business worth a damn capitalizes based on certain loss.
The current health insurance market is unsustainable and the industry knows it. What nobody is saying is that the health insurance companies were unsuccessful at selling insurance to young, healthy people, so they lobbied to get this group covered — and paid for — by their parents. That took care of that group while Medicare takes care of the older group they didn’t want to cover. Now, the only the group left are middle-aged people who are getting fired left and right by employers, thereby getting dropped from coverage.
Individual plans? These are gawd awful expensive for anyone over 45 so most just drop coverage and pray they don’t get cancer or a heart attack. If the ACA is struck down, in ten years there will be nobody left to buy health insurance.
Insurance companies know this.
The ACA gives them 20-30 years to transition their business model. Without it, they probably have fewer than ten years before they will all be frantically merging, trying to pool assets and mitigate losses. The argument against the individual mandate is being driven by the very wealthy, the very healthy and the already Medicare-serviced. Selfish pack of idiots.
You just need to be paying attention halfway with half a brain to figure this out. It just is not that hard. The morality of providing health care or the constitutionality of forcing us to pay for something does not even need to be part of the argument.
We had just moved into the big house on Van Buren Ave. in St. Paul in 1968. There were only four of us kids then, my two younger sisters were still babies. My mom didn’t know anyone in the neighborhood except Fannie, a rather plump, proper lady who lived straight across the alley from us facing Blair Ave. I’m not quite sure how they met, but I think it was at the laundromat that used to be on the corner of Blair and Dale, the one with the 5¢ Coke machine that dispensed glass bottles.
When Fannie walked, her girdle and underthings swished beneath her dress. She always wore a pastel-colored dress, even in the winter. She had white hair that was cut short and gold-framed glasses. I don’t remember her ever smiling, but her face was friendly and pleasant to look at. It was the face of a calming, comfortable grandma.
Fannie’s husband died long before we moved in. He left her a very large light blue ’50s Packard sedan she parked in her garage. Most of the time, the car was covered up with an old sheet to keep it clean. Riding in it was like sitting on a sofa strapped to a set of four wheels.
Fannie did not drive often but when she did, she took the task very seriously. She would get all dressed up in her Sunday-go-to-meeting best — complete with white gloves — and drive the car slowly out of the garage. I can still hear the tires crunch on the street gravel as she drove all of 10 mph down the side street, my sisters and I in the back and my mom in the front.
We would never go very far. Fannie was scared she would crash the car and her poor dead husband would never forgive her. She said she liked to drive, but my mom would later tell us after Fannie died that she would only take the car out if my mom agreed to ride along with her.
When we got back from our short trips — usually to the rectory or the grocery store — Fannie would reward us with a windmill cookie she kept in a tin just inside the basement door. Me and my older sister were allowed to go in and get a cookie ourselves. It was a bit scary.
“It was cooler down there,” she would say. She wanted to make sure they would be fresh when us kids came over to visit. She never ate the cookies herself and I learned later that the only reason she bought them was for us.
But they always tasted a little musty and smelled a bit of Fannie.
This blog post is part of a blog-off series with a group of bloggers from different professions and world views, each exploring a theme from his/her world view. This was about exploring the theme, Cookies. To explore how others handled the theme, check them out below. I will add links as they publish.
I think This American Life should keep the episode available as part of its official history of the show. Without it, we will lose a critical piece of our own historical culture, much the same way we have when we redacted the n-word from works of literature or shelved films that show actors in blackface. Without the episode, we will know where we are, but will have forgotten the steps we took to get here. Without the episode to remind us, we are bound to repeat this error at some time in the future. Moreover — while deeply embarrassing for Ira Glass — it will remain a stark reminder of his duty to respect his “blink” moments.
I don’t know if it is as dire as all that, but I think the issue is about more than just trust. I think what Mike Daisey was able to pull off speaks more about who we are as an American culture than it does about the nature of journalism, truth or trust.
By his own admission, Mike Daisey is a performance artist. The monologue and the story he crafted were always his performance, whether he was on stage in front of an audience, in front of Ira Glass or Ed Shultz. The fact that each of the latter chose to ignore the fact that Mike Daisey was in character and performing was their failing, not his. I’m sure he was just as delighted in duping them as they were delighted to be interviewing him.
The Canon is replete with works by artists and writers who borrow facts heavily to spin their stories. Many times the veracity of the story is never explained as that would ruin the mystery. However, there are hints in each work to suggest that the story — while plausible — is simply not a factual account.
In An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce the reader is led to believe that Peyton Farquhar has somehow escaped his hanging. In the middle of his narrative, the more attentive reader will begin noticing some inconsistencies such as the trees lining up in the forest and the shift in point of view. The reader who becomes wedded to Farquhar’s success will miss the subtle cues.
In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf does not even bother to hide the fact that she would be lying to the reader. “Lies will flow from my lips, but there may perhaps be some truth mixed up with them; it is for you to seek out this truth and to decide whether any part of it is worth keeping.” Whether or not there were lies contained in her essay or where they were is up to the reader to decide.
In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne introduces us to the story by way of telling us he found “documents, in short, not official, but of a private nature…I could account for their being included in the heap of Custom-House lumber only by the fact that Mr. Pue’s death had happened suddenly…” and the cloth containing an embroidered scarlet letter. Anyone of the day would have known Hawthorne to be a custom house officer and this accounting plausible. It is only by prefacing the story with The Custom House that made it believable as a historical reckoning. It was, of course, entirely false as was the story of Hester Pryne.
In each of these performances, there were a few details that were just too perfect, just too pat. But the audiences really, really, really needed to believe and each fooled its audience in its time. The cues are what Ira Glass missed. Missing the cues is what is embarrassing him.
Mike Daisey’s performance on This American Life illustrates what he knows intimately about American Culture. Mike Daisey knows the power of story in a highly-charged, desperate culture in the middle of a crises of identity.
We are a culture that will desperately believe in a myth rather than the facts. We want to believe the Olive Garden is authentic Italian food or that what McDonalds puts out as food is actually a hamburger. We believe we are paying the full price of the cell phone service we receive or that books should be free. We believe reality TV is not edited and the indie band we just discovered is authentic and has not been marketed. We believe the music we stole from a locker is justifiably ours because the music industry has been ripping us off for years.
We believe FOX News is really news and not just entertainment wrapped around a set of facts. We believe we can somehow get skinny eating whatever we want without exercising.
We are a culture that believes in a man named Jesus who walked the Earth two thousand years ago and was born of a virgin mother and nailed to a Roman cross to save us from our sins. We believe this so passionately that we are willing to bend non-believers to our will with laws and public shame. We believe this so deeply that we are willing — actually require — the person with the ability to blow up the entire world twenty-seven times over to also believe.
We believe that iPads should cost under $1,000 and blithely turn our attention away from the human and environmental abuses that make that possible. This is what makes a story like Mike Daisey’s plausible, possible and probable. It is the juxtaposition of our deep unease with the reality that people are being exploited with our insatiable need to have cheap stuff that taps our conscience just a little and tells us that Mike Daisey’s story is true, even though it is factually inaccurate.
How could we not know? The truth is, we couldn’t not know. The signs of truth are too blatant.
And we also believe that This American Life is journalism and that journalism does not tell stories. Journalism reports the naked facts, unedited. In reality, Ira Glass is every bit as skilled a storyteller as Mike Daisey is.
For this one episode, Mike Daisey was better. He should never apologize for that.
Thanks to Sister Mary Clarentia (who we adoring called Sister Tarantula or The Tranch for short) in seventh grade, I fell in love with the usage rules of the English language. When I went on to high school, Sister Ursula, (Sister Rubber Lips, sorry. † self) my Latin teacher, showed how language had even stricter rules. In my senior year, Ms. M-P (the first person I knew who had a hyphenated last name.. she still scolds me that she doesn’t want me to use her real name in my blog) showed me that these rules can be manipulated to create all ranges of emotion and bend people to your will based on your words alone.
Wow, that was real power, I thought, I wanted more of this seductive drug.
I also wanted to rule the world, so when I got to college, I thought I wanted to study linguistics. I was wrong, but that is a story for another day. I ended up studying English, dragging a linguistics minor along a tow rope behind me like one of those bouncy spring dogs. The important take-away was linguistics saved me from being a badge-wielding, zero-tolerance, know-it-all English major grammar cop your mother warned you to stay away from.
Yeah, I’m aware I ended that sentence with a preposition. You don’t think I did it on purpose just to rankle the grammar police? Or is you calling me stupid? Which is it, punk? Go ahead, make my day!
In linguistics class that first day, I quickly learned that grammar is the set of structural rules that govern the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language. Grammars are descriptive, not prescriptive. Grammar rules depend on where the language is spoken and can change dramatically within a social group.
Ah-ha! This was incredibly cool and opened up a whole new level of creativity with language. It made the writer an artist. It also explains why politicians feel they need to speak with a Southern drawl when they visit the Deep South* but that is also another story for another day, y’all.
M’grits is gettin’ cold. Hang fer a minute…
My second linguistics class — after surviving Introduction to Linguistics where they teach you phonetic transcription trumps orthography every time — was taught by a particularly arrogant French professor.
We American students made the mistake of pronouncing the word sauté as sɐté.** She immediately flew into a rage, saying the correct pronunciation was sóte. She was right, of course, we had been pronouncing the word incorrectly for years. But it was our Upper Midwest grammar and she was wrong to correct our transcription.
I’m not even going to get into the argument of whether or not the /t/ was a dental or alveolar consonant. We couldn’t even agree on the vowel and the stress.
Thing is we were both right grammatically and since we were in Minnesota, she should have been pronouncing it sɐté if she had any hopes of fitting in. She did not care about fitting in. She was French. When in Rome, it is always best to adopt the grammar that the Latins use and quit Gaulling people by being haughty.
I think that was the lesson.
I still went and got me the English degree, but always kept my left-brained linguistics minor in tow. It is firmly bolted to my jaw and activates itself whenever my right-brained English degree feels like it should pop off and correct someone’s “grammar.”
What does a sauté pan and correcting someone’s grammar have in common? If you do one, you’re likely to get hit with the other. Or a skillet. Or frying pan. Or spider.
**My IPA transcription is really rusty. Feel free to call me out on this by sending the correct notation if I got this wrong.
This blog post is part of a blog-off series with a group of bloggers from different professions and world views, each exploring a theme from his/her world view. This was about exploring the theme, What’s your grammar pet peeve? To explore how others handled the theme, check them out below. I will add links as they publish.
SXSW Interactive starts tomorrow and I feel like I should be putting up a post on the topic, even though I’m not going. As I watch my twitter stream on the topic, it occurs to me that the experience is vastly different for my crowd vs. the A-lister crowd.
Of course I have a short parable… or metaphor… or whatever to illustrate my point. Here goes.
If Chris Brogan forgets his charger for his MacBook Air, he tweets out something like “Hey, can anyone lend me a charger for a MBAir?” Within minutes, he will have his pick of twenty or so to happily charge his Mac.
If I forget my charger for my MacBook Air, I would tweet out “Hey, can anyone lend me a charger for a MBAir?”
Crickets. Not only would I get crickets, but I may even get RTed with lines like “some idiot forgot his charger at SXSW. LOL”
Who said that wishes would be heard and answered when wished on the morning star?
Somebody thought of that and someone believed it, and look what it’s done so far.
Someone was first with the idea that if he wished on a star and believed, that his wish would come true. He created this idea from two disparate objects — a wish and a star — out of nothing other than his imagination. At some point, he shared his fragile idea with someone else. And that someone else had a choice to either embrace it as a fantastic idea and fan it… or belittle it, ridicule it and kill it.
In that ever brief moment, the spark of a creative idea took hold. It was fanned with nothing more than a human belief that could not be verified. No ROI was produced, no matrices were created to measure against; just a spark of human thought against the wonder of the world that surrounded the thinker.
While frantically running errands on Thursday afternoon before our industrialized world decided that it would shut down at 5:00pm, I caught the middle of a discussion on NPR where a guest was talking about how music and arts are being systematically removed from school curriculum in favor of more STEM classes to comply with No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. (I can’t find the program; npr.org stinks as a curation site.) What we are doing is creating generations of human beings who do not value art or music.
What we are losing is the ability to create, recognize and fan the spark of creativity.
I’m going out right now to wish really hard on a star. Join me.
PS Just as he starts to play the piano, watch Richard smile slightly. I’ll bet someone said something like, “You can’t perform a hit song on a toy piano!” How many times have creative people heard something couldn’t (or shouldn’t) be done. How many times a day do you hear it?
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This blog post is part of a blog-off series with a group of bloggers from different professions and world views, each exploring a theme from his/her world view. This was about exploring the theme, That song stuck in your head To explore how others handled the theme, check them out below. I will add links as they publish.
If you’re gonna make a movie that features a dog and that movie wins Best Actor and Best Picture of the Year, we’re gonna have a thing or two to say about it. I’m talking about The Artist starring Uggie and a few human beings in supporting roles, of course.
We don’t do movie reviews here, though this film is certainly worthy of one. After seeing it a few dozen more times, I may write one. For now, though, here are two observations.
“Silent” media gives a voice to the mute or the flawed.
Social media channels are for the most part, silent media. They do not require anyone to actually be themselves or show themselves in photos or video. You are what your words are in blog posts, in tweets, in Facebook updates and such. You do not need to be a great speaker, be able to carry a tune or dance to perform in the social media space. Social media gave to many nerds and geeks what silent film gave to George Valentin (and Uggie the dog if you want to extend the metaphor.) Sorry, you will have to see the film to the very end to understand this reference. Yeah, I know.. but life has no short-cuts.
Unfortunately for most, video is on the rise in the social media space, giving it a real voice in much the same way talkies did for silent film. Many stars will fall by the wayside, but it will also make way for the young. “People are tired of old actors mugging at camera to be understood. Out with the old, in with the new. Make way for the young! That’s life!” (Peppy Miller, The Artist)
Hating on the French
Can we just stop that already? As the Oscars went on and The Artist picked up more awards, my twitter stream filled up with anti-French tweets. I think we may be able to learn a little bit from Jean Dujardin who said in his acceptance speech, “I love your country” and proclaimed his delight for cinnamon rolls on the red carpet. If a big star like Dujardin can find delight in the smallest, pedestrian things about America, why can’t we find these same things about the French?
We all have flaws. Some of us are socially awkward; some are camera-shy. Still others have stage-fright and other have a French accent. Most of us are the dogs that run around the feet of others, just trying to get some attention. The tools you learned to use to overcome your flaws may not help you next year.
The survivors in this game are not the young as Peppy Miller suggested, but those who are willing and able to adapt.
I remember growing up in St. Paul, there was a donut shop on University and Dale that made the best raised donuts in the world. They were big and my favorite was a chocolate with crushed peanuts on top. We would take a special trip there every few months and only get one donut for each of us. The donut would take forever to eat.
We had the same relationship with the Dairy Queen on Rice St. We would visit the DQ on the Sundays our family drove down by the Mississippi to watch the barge traffic. We didn’t go for those drives often and we would always only get a small cone per kid. No matter how hot it was, that ice cream would last for a long time.
I was fourteen or so or so before I ever ate at a McDonalds. My first experience there was with a friend and his uncle after seeing Star Wars. I can’t remember what I had but I remember thinking I wanted more of this stuff.
We grew up where usually the only day we ate meat was Sunday. It was either chicken or beef roast. If we had meat, it was hamburger (pâté chinois) or liver. The other days were mostly pasta meals. And there was almost never enough for the seven of us, though my mom did the best she could stretching with mashed potatoes and dumplings.
We had three channels on a B&W television. Our shared media collection were vinyl LPs consisting of Hank Williams, Hank Snow, a Disney collection of children’s songs that included a version of “Big Rock Candy Mountain,” Teresa Brewer, a 45 of the Brown’s “I Heard the Bluebirds Sing” and old 78s of a Nun’s Choir.
My first apartment consisted of a large carpet, an over-turned laundry basket for a tv stand and an old color television that took forever to warm up. Cable was still something rich people had.
Now we have an almost unlimited number of television choices, Netflix, YouTube, iTunes, Facebook, millions of blogs and we’re always craving to see what else is on. We hardly get through one song on a playlist when we’re itching to switch to the next track. I shudder to think of how many movies get watched only halfway on the Netflix before the clicker is in hand, searching for something more stimulating. I suspect about half of my readers only got this far on this post before clicking off and reading the next article in their RSS reader.
We’ve spent the past ten years of so building rapid distribution systems that shove content at us faster than we can consume it. Judging from my NetFlix queue and iTunes list, I think we are fast approaching that point when we have caught up with consuming all the older, quality content we missed on the way to getting older. And the current selection of content is thinning.
Making distribution systems is easy. The creation of content still takes the same amount of time. You can’t rush human inspiration and creativity. It still takes time to work through a story line and character development. Editing a quality piece of writing takes time. Shooting video is a linear process. So is editing. The “good enough” rarely is. “Good enough” is code for a user will click off at :16 instead of 1:38.
We live now in the land of plenty where lots of people are creating more stuff in record time than at any other point in history. I wonder how much of it is good enough to savor, crave more or last beyond the next fashion season.
Today’s post is a guest post by the novelist and essayist, Jane Devin. We’re delighted she stopped by to bark and walk in our back yard and welcome her any time she wants to wander in. If you haven’t already, buy her book, Elephant Girl. It is nothing short of amazing.
Earlier this month, a YouTube video of a fed-up father who shot up his daughter’s laptop after she posted a disrespectful letter about her parents on Facebook went viral on the internet. This is the video:
A few words up front: I was not a perfect parent and sometimes not even an adequate one. I don’t know Mr. Jordan or his daughter well enough to speak to their true characters, intentions, or their family dynamics.
What I do know is what Mr. Jordan chose to make public. First, his 15 year old daughter wrote a scathing post against her parents which many people, including me, thought made her sound like an entitled brat. She posted it on Facebook and her dad found it through their dog’s account (seriously). Second, Mr. Jordan decided to teach Hannah a lesson by posting a video to her Facebook wall. After going off on his own diatribe, which I found not too horrible (hey, parents are people, too — our feelings get hurt and we don’t appreciate being disrespected,) Mr. Jordan decided to put several rounds of bullets into his daughter’s computer. That’s where his family drama became ugly for me.
A majority of parents (and by my count mostly women), lauded Mr. Jordan with praises like, “It’s great to see someone actually parent” and “The brat got what she deserved – I bet she won’t dare act that way again”. It takes a lot to shock me, but these kind of comments did. Here’s why:
1) If it was any other authoritarian relationship — say, employee/employer, teacher/student — people would have been up in arms over the destruction of property in order to teach a lesson, not applauding the act. If someone provided a computer to their employee or student and then shot it up when they found them abusing it, most of us would think they were nuts, even if they did pay for what they destroyed. We wouldn’t be praising the “lesson” they were teaching.
2) The “lesson” that it’s somehow okay to destroy someone’s property when you feel disrespected, even if it’s something you bought as a gift, teaches that destruction and revenge are appropriate responses. It seems to me that a lot of people who grow up with that lesson are the same ones who do things like slash the tires of their boyfriend’s car when they find out he wasn’t faithful.
3) The definition of vandalism is “deliberate, mischievous, or malicious destruction of public or private property.” The law may have given the father the right to control his daughter’s use of property, and he could argue that the property was ultimately a gift he bought and then reclaimed, but the spirit of vandalism remains. He deliberately and maliciously destroyed something even he admitted was his daughter’s.
4) Discipline and revenge are not the same thing. That’s why comments like “finally, a parent acting like a parent” stunned me. Since when is an act of vengeance the same as discipline? While I understand people’s frustration with kids who are spoiled or act “entitled” I fail to see how shooting up a child’s possessions can, in any way, be considered good parenting or intelligent discipline.
5) The public doesn’t know, can’t know, both sides of the story. The dad said his daughter was grounded for three months before for doing something “similar” and “stupid.” To those who say the girl was previously spoiled and therefore needed a harsh reminder of her place, I’d counter that a three month restriction seems pretty drastic and not lax at all. A quarter of a year is a long time in the life of a teen — and there are few teenagers who don’t repeat their mistakes. And that list of chores? How long did they take in reality? Did the girl also work at her stepmom’s business, as she claimed? Was she given adequate time outside of school to be a kid? We don’t know. While the girl’s letter was nasty — I especially took exception to the “cleaning lady” bit — maybe she had her own and possibly legitimate reasons for being frustrated.
6) Like Hannah’s father, I also left home at 16. I was mostly self-supporting by the age of 14. I don’t think it made me a better or more responsible person, and I would not wish that kind of necessary but early independence on any teenager. I have no problem with a 15 year old having a part-time job, but unlike Hannah’s dad I don’t view it as a requirement. I think a child’s primary job is to go to school. I think learning social skills and having friends and activities is also important. There’s plenty of time and occasions in life to go to work at Burger King for minimum wage. At 15, I think a job should be a choice, not a condition of living happily under your parent’s roof.
7) Another viral YouTube video was that of a judge who was shown spanking and yelling at his then-teenage daughter for being disobedient. He had told her not to download music from the internet and she did. The majority of parents condemned the judge for his abuse, which was blatant and easy to see. Almost no one in that case called the girl a spoiled brat or praised the judge for his parenting skills. Yet Mr. Jordan was lauded for shaming his daughter publicly by posting his video on Facebook and YouTube — an act that will have consequences for her years into the future — and for taking a gun to his daughter’s property in order to prove that he was the man in charge. The hallmarks of domestic violence are not always physical. The six signs of an abuser are: Dominance, Humiliation, Isolation, Threats, Intimidation, Denial and Blame. Again, I do not know Mr. Jordan outside of what he has made public, but I see all six signs in the behavior exhibited in his video. He asserted his dominance, humiliated his daughter, promised to isolate her through restriction, threatened her with promises that her life was about to get “a whole lot harder,” intimidated her by showing her his power, denied that she had any right to complain, and then blamed her for his own overreaction, which was to put several rounds of ammunition into her property. I do not see much of a moral difference between the physical abuse of the judge and what Mr. Jordan did. Both men showed a lack of self-control and used their power wrongly. To condemn one while praising the other is, to me, hypocritical at best.
I believe in discipline. I don’t believe in destruction. I believe that good parents have a right to demand respect. I don’t believe respect is achieved through acts of violence. I believe children should know that their parents are human and can get angry and have hurt feelings just like anyone else — but I think it’s a parent’s job to model an appropriate way to deal with frustration. The use of a gun to make a point is never appropriate. Ever. That many people think it is — that the majority of comments praise Mr. Jordan — doesn’t make him, or the majority, right.
My aploogies to Elizabeth Warren for editing her words ever-so-slightly to fit the argument at hand.
You built a faith-based hospital out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: you moved your services to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your hospital because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your hospital, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.
“Now look, you built a hospital and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.
In the latest dust-up between the mean, godless, tribal Obama administration and God, leaders of the Catholic Church, right-wing pundits and every God-fearing Republican is unleashing a torrent of vitriol against the policy that requires faith-based organizations to provide for birth control in its employee-based health insurance. As the argument gets heated beyond reason, pundits are hauling out the separation of Church and State arguments as well as
In the United States of America, I value my freedom FROM religion much more than I value my freedom OF religion.
Before you go off on a puppy, I was raised Catholic. I was in as deep as anyone could be. If you want to kick me in the ribs, you’d better be prepared for a knock-out, drag-out that you will lose.
The Catholic Church has a right to set its own agenda and preach what it wants to preach. That right is guaranteed in the US Constitution. But when it dips into the resources of the secular parts of the United States for its survival and growth, it becomes beholding to the State. Jesus even said “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21) The Church is not allowed to dip into the resources of the State without just compensation. If in the end, it wants to only hire Catholics, service Catholics and give back any tax-abatements it has ever received, then by all means, allow it to set its own agenda.
The United States of America is not a theocracy and the Catholic Church need not operate within its boundaries. If the secular laws are intolerable, it can decide to abandon the flock here. But before leaving, it may want to take a look at the flock, learn a bit of balance and tolerance from it and recognize its existence is symbiotic with the State.
Common wisdom was once upon a time that the bank did not ever want to own your home. It would try so hard to not own your home it would fall over backwards to work with you if you ever fell behind on your mortgage.
Until the housing bubble burst in 2007-08.
Everything has now changed. Banks want so badly to own your home that they will literally dodge your phone calls and letters attempting to restructure your loan or even work out terms with you.
Being rather old school, this sort of behavior puzzled me at first. What would a bank do with a house? They are not in the real estate business?
But they are. Getting into the real estate business is their way of turning lemons into lemonade.
When the foreclosure rate was insanely low, the cost to the bank to manage a house that was foreclosed on was too great for the return. But look what has happened since the bubble burst. The foreclosed homes have consolidated. Where there was only one home in a subdivision, there are now 20-40 homes or more. It now makes sense to hire property management companies to flip the house, maintain it and manage the renters*.
The banks are slowly owning large tracts of private property. They are becoming the de facto Home Owners Association. Eventually, they will be the loudest voice at city council meetings and zoning boards.
Are you noticing? Is anyone in Washington?
*We have had one such company rent out an old church and set up shop just right outside of Englewood. Their signs are on almost every distress property in every subdivision for miles. Like watching McDonalds expand.
My editor wrote this little thing this morning. Since I’m also a Mad Men fan, I asked him if I could repost it here for you. He reluctantly agreed, but only if I give him full credit. He is such a stickler for the rules. Here is his post as it appears on his blog.
There is a current narrative going on within the creative community lamenting the demise of professional graphic artists. One such narrative appears on my favorite design blog, Before&After Magazine.
Firstly, let’s get one thing perfectly clear. Don Draper is a fictional character, partially based on Draper Daniels, the creative head of the Chicago-based Leo Burnett advertising agency in the ’50s. Matt Weiner can write him to do anything and say anything. He did not exist. He does not exist. Never. Ever, ever, ever.
Don’s story for us starts in medias res as a successful creative director banging out copy in a bar in New York City. As the story unfolds over the next four seasons, we find out he was a poor kid growing up on a farm “somewhere in the Midwest,” joined the Army to get the heck off the farm, sold used cars in California, never went to college, never wrote anything longer than 250 words, moved to New York City and sold furs and did copywriting/advertising on the side for the owner (who probably never would have hired a graphic artist if Don didn’t do the work) and eventually bamboozled his way into Sterling-Cooper.
Don’s path is hardly the one you most read about. Most professional graphic artists have a BFA or certificate from an art school. They trained to eventually become creative/art directors in agencies, living the Don Draper Dream.
But if you look closely, the credentialed people who work at Sterling-Cooper and later Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Price are the first ones getting fired when an account is lost. Don prevails and gets stronger despite not having the credentials of a “real” creative director. Sure, he has his moments of panic but who doesn’t? And Don’s panic is more understandable when he admits to himself he has been faking his entire adult life. Again, folks, he is not real so Weiner can write all these traits into the Don Draper character.
The problem with not believing Don Draper isn’t real is I know people like Don Draper. I know people in the graphic arts field who have no business being there because they don’t have the “proper” credentials*. Yet, they are the folks I turn to when I need something done.
How many agencies would hire a Don Draper if he was looking for work? Probably all of them. How many would hire a used-car salesman turned furrier who did advertising for them on the side without an art degree? None of them. The irony in all this is the latter is exactly what Sterling-Cooper did, albeit unknowingly.
Don was successful not so much because of his superior copywriting and creative ability, but in his willingness to learn and his keen observation of human behavior. He learned what made people tick and more importantly, how to make them tick to a rhythm he tapped out. He played Roger into his job and continues to play him. For Don, Roger is the perfect whetstone that sharpens his skills. But this is not a character analysis post. This is just a reminder that creative ability is not about art degrees. Creative people don’t hold any special rights to the keys of knowledge. But people who are willing to use the tools they have and sharpen that craft do.
Like the graphic arts industry, Mad Men could have easily just evaporated after season four. The most ardent fans among us would have had a momentary Don Draper panic moment, but then like Don, realized life goes in only one direction — forward. Instead of slinking home in the rain to a stiff drink and a pair of bedroom slippers, we would have sighed deeply, been grateful for the spectacular opportunity we had been given, looked bravely onto the horizon and enthusiastically asked:
Everyone in advertising wants to be Don Draper but few want to go through the pain of becoming Don. Fewer still want the anxiety of staying Don.
*My editor is, in fact, one of those posers. Read his story. Nowhere in there is any formal training in graphic design. Yet he fooled a lot of people into thinking he could do the job, mostly because he could.
I first saw this ad (I think the short version) ironically enough while waiting for the Grismer folks to change out some critical suspension parts in the event van. I was all fired up to write another blog post about how car companies are stuffing men (and women) into stereotypes.
But then I got to the end of this extended version and I think marketers are finally starting to get it. There is no gender war. It turns out men and women pretty much want the same thing, even if the detours and paths to get there are different.
I am holding my breath to see which version makes the game cut and which one will eventually run long-term. But this was made. It’s a start.
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